Visiting speaker talks gender images and sensationalism in ads

“Divine! Imaging Gender in Fashion Advertising” took place in the Irving K. Barber Centre on March 8. (Juan Cabrejo/The Omega)

There were quite a few guest speakers who attended TRU last week, and they all successfully marked International Days as well as International Women’s Day.

Last week, Patricia Soley-Beltran welcomed everyone to her free workshops dedicated to topics of visual culture, aesthetics, genders and fashion advertisement. Soley-Beltran raised a variety of compelling issues in the context of visual culture. She virtuously tackled issues of symbolic violence, fragmentation, gender roles in society and the way the modern generation is consuming products.

Soley-Beltran revealed some of the secrets of fashion and discussed topics of how genders play their role in advertisements in order to make a strong appeal. Soley-Beltran worked in the fashion industry for six years, and after her modeling career, she explored fashion images using a scholarly approach.

“It was the need to understand my personal experience as a professional model that prompted my interest in fashion modeling as a cultural phenomenon. Starting at 17, I worked as a model and mannequin in advertising and fashion for about six years. One of the experiences that struck me most during that time was the fascination I exerted over other people who, without knowing me, seemed mesmerized merely by my appearance. As a young woman who valued herself for more than her looks, I became myself spellbound by their fascination,” Soley-Beltran said.

Soley-Beltran shared her personal life experience of modeling and vividly provided explanations of why women tend to comply to ideals of female perfection. In her speech, Soley-Beltran also offered students an opportunity to analyze the iconography, aesthetics of fashion images and the way genders “act” or “appear” in the advertisement industry. Likewise, attendees could get an idea of modern consumerism.

Soley-Beltran is a sociologist, author, artist, and academic born in Barcelona with a focus on the sociology of gender and sexuality. She is a member of the research group History of Science Studies at University Pompeu Fabra, a founding member of the International Society for Cultural History, and an editorial board member of Critical Studies of Fashion and Beauty. She has graduated with her Masters of Arts in Cultural History from the University of Aberdeen and later got her Ph.D. in Sociology of Gender from the University of Edinburgh.